Online casinos accepting players from United Kingdom
Online gamblers in the United Kingdom enjoy a robust regulatory framework and a plethora of betting choices. The Gambling Commission (UKGC) regulates all forms of gambling, betting, lottery, and bingo and enforces the player-friendly rules.
One sector of gambling that the Commission does not license or regulate is spread betting, which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The Commission was created by the Gambling Act 2005. The body took over the full responsibilities of the Gambling Board of Great Britain in 2007. The entire regulatory system was streamlined and simplified. Now, the same laws that govern land-based gambling apply to the remote, or online sector.
The Gambling Act 2005 authorizes the Gambling Commission to oversee activities in six separate sectors.
Each form of gambling requires its own separate license. However, some sub-sectors such as family arcades (gaming) and some bingo games for prizes (traveling fairs, gaming and entertainment centers, etc.) do not require a license from the Commission.
On land or online, the UKGC makes it their business to:
- Keep crime and disorder out of gambling, and to make sure gambling does not support criminal enterprise
- Ensure that gambling is conducted fairly and openly
- Protect children and other vulnerable people from harm and exploitation by virtue of gambling
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UK Gambling Law Modifications
Prior to 2014, the Gambling Commission maintained a whitelist of six outside jurisdictions whose licensing authority was recognized. If operators held a license in any of these places, they were allowed to advertise services and accept bets from UK residents.
The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Act 2014 abolished the whitelist and required those operators in EEA (European Economic Area) Countries including Malta, as well as those offering services from Alderney, Antigua and Barbuda, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, and Tasmania to also hold a license from the Gambling Commission.
It also changed the tax regime, imposing a 15% point of consumption tax. A few operators pulled out of the market and some simply decided to risk significant civil and criminal penalties rather than pay taxes.
In addition to being allowed to advertise and offer services in Great Britain, licensed offshore operators have the right to cooperate with UK financial institutions and payment systems.
Gambling at unlicensed sites offshore
It is illegal for non-UKGC licensed offshore operators to offer online gambling games and other betting services to residents in the UK.
That certainly doesn't mean that some don't.
With over 150 land casinos, nearly 200,000 gaming machines, and 8,500 betting shops throughout the country - more than 1,000 in London alone - the Gambling Commission hardly has time to chase down errant online operators.
There is nothing in the law to prevent local residents from gambling at unlicensed offshore sites.
While debating the 2014 amendments to the Gambling Act 2005 the government considered employing payment and ISP blocking to keep unlicensed operators and UK punters at a distance from each other but decided against it.
It is left to each person in the UK to choose whether to gamble at a licensed establishment online or risk losing the consumer protections that are built into the system.
Industry cooperation, player choice
Common sense and market forces have made their own contributions to consumer protection. Players appreciate the fact their pastimes are not criminalized, that they have protections and that the UKGC will penalize operators who flout the law or are sloppy in keeping safeguards in place.
Behind the scenes, major developers and providers whose software and games are licensed in the UK do not allow their products to be released into most unauthorized jurisdictions. If UK players want to play Microgaming, NetEnt, or Novomatic games, they simply won't find them at an online casino which only holds a Curacao license.
That's not to say that some sites don't offer games under Curacao license, though. Many remote gaming sites hold multiple licenses as the UKGC protections do not extend beyond the borders of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
In order to properly serve the rest of Europe and beyond, some online casinos are also licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority. When certain games or services are offered, they are under license of a subsidiary operating company that holds a sub-license in Curacao.
The UKGC's mission is not only to make sure players get a fair game and to keep crime out of the industry, but they are also tasked with protecting children and other vulnerable people from any potential harm that might be caused from gambling.
In a society where about half the population have gambled in the last month, a national strategy is needed. The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board advises the Gambling Commission on how best to assist the nearly two-million at-risk gamblers in the country of more than 66 million people.
The Commission levies heavy fines on gambling providers that do not take their social responsibilities seriously as well as those who fail to protect their customers through due diligence.
The UKGC also offer consumers a variety of tools to manage their own activities. When all else fails, punters have the option of self-exclusion. This facility allows those who think they may be spending too much time or money gambling online or on land to stop gambling for up to six months.
Whether out of a sense of fairness or duty or simply to maintain a position in one of the most lucrative gambling markets in the world, online operators in the UK play by the UKGC rules.
Disagreements will arise from time to time in any sort of business relationship. In late 2018 the Commission established new standards for the dispute resolution process that "put consumers first".
If a customer is not satisfied with the results of their complaint to a licensed gambling business, they can still use the services of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider. ADR providers now have very distinct guidance from the Gambling Commission on what is expected of them and how to accomplish it.
For a list of approved ADR entities and links to their websites please click here.
For those in the UK who may have ventured outside the safety of the Gambling Commission's protections, some player forums offer dispute resolution. The people that operate the forums and message boards are usually industry affiliates (marketers) and can hold great sway with operators who don't want to lose their marketing partners.
Each of the casual, or unofficial arbiters operate in their own way with some handling all disputes in private, others completely in public, and still others using the double bludgeon of business pressure and the possibility of public awareness of unsavory business practices.
Types of Games Available in the UK
The Gambling Commission regulates all gambling games in the United Kingdom except spread betting. All common forms of gambling are legal.
Online players in the UK have access to regulated online sports betting, bingo, and lotteries as well as skill games like poker and parimutuel betting like horse racing.
Online casino games include, but are not limited to:
- Video Slots
- Reel Slots & Fruit Machines
- Blackjack & Pontoon with or without side bets
- Progressive Jackpot Slots
- Baccarat/Punto Banco
- Video Poker
- Sic Bo
- Card Games
- Scratch Games
- Casino War
- Fixed Odds & Number Games
- House-banked Poker like 3-Card, Caribbean Stud, etc.
- Live Dealer studio and casino streams
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Payment Methods for UK Casinos Online
One of the most important elements of the Gambling Act and subsequent modifications is that gambling businesses licensed in the UK are allowed to use all financial institutions and payment services that operate in the country. That simply means that any and all bonafide and responsible ways to get money into and out of an account are available to players.
Credit and debit cards, prepaid vouchers, eWallets, electronic bank fund transfers through a third party, and direct bank wires are all methods that can be used.
All online casinos serving the UK market practice KYC and AML (know your customer & anti-money laundering) procedures in accordance with UKGC regulations.
Prior to requesting a withdrawal, players should contact casino customer service to learn which documents they will be required to submit for approval before the cash out is processed. The following are usually required:
- Valid passport, UK driving license, Proof of Age Card, or European ID card
- Copy of the credit or debit card used to make the deposit
- Copy of a recent utility bill
Some of the most popular UK deposit and withdrawal methods are:
- Master Card
- Wire Transfer
The Future of Gambling in the UK
While some countries criminalize gambling activities, the United Kingdom has taken a proactive approach to regulating the industry. For more than a decade they have held to their three-part mission to keep crime out of gambling, make sure it is conducted in a fair and open way, and to protect children and other vulnerable people from harm or exploitation from gambling.
More importantly, they have sought to improve their services and protections and strive for a more perfect system. As a result, players in the UK have a regime that can be held up to the world as a robust and effective model.
While the marketplace can only support so many operators, and industry consolidation through mergers and acquisitions continues, the governing body remains resilient and malleable to the ever-changing industry. This keeps player protection the top priority and ensures that the industry is stable, profitable, and accountable.Author: Lars Jones
United Kingdom Legal Gambling FAQ
Yes, UK online casino players are eligible to claim all the regular bonuses found at these sites, including no deposit and deposit-related offers, as well as Loyalty programs. What is more, due to the regulated status of the industry, the chances of coming up against a disreputable casino operator with steep bonus wagering requirements is still smaller than at other less regulated jurisdictions.
UK online casinos, as pointed out in the text above, feature all the regular gameplay options found at the top online casinos worldwide. Therefore, all you have to do is go through their RTPs, or simply choose from the casino games already known to offer the best chances of a big payout – blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps and video poker. If you are looking for some thrill all the while, head for the progressive jackpot titles –they offer the chance to win massive prizes with the smallest of stakes.
Yes, all the top reputable UK online casinos offer players the chance to enjoy their favourite entertainment content without staking their hard-earned cash. In fact, most online casinos offer the demo versions of their games up front, just to get players acquainted with the platform.
Players can indulge in online casino gameplay in the UK for free, as we have already seen if they wish to practice some of the game mechanics. However, if you are looking to play for real money straight up, you will need to have a bankroll of some size.
Normally, it is advisable to check the minimum deposit amount at your chosen casino, as well as the qualifying deposits for any bonuses you may want to claim. In other words, there is no strict bankroll amount you will need for UK online casino gameplay – it all comes down to the players’ preference.
Most UK online casinos tend to stick to pounds, since that is the primary nationally accepted currency of the country. However, some may additionally cater to neighbouring markets as well, or an international player pool, which is why they may include Euros or another currency as well.
Yes, mobile gambling has turned into a major trend across the entire online gambling industry, and the UK nonetheless. These online casinos are normally released as an extension of the desktop version; nowadays, online casino developers opt for a new instant-play website format, HTML5. Developing entire casino game libraries this way allows UK players to switch between platforms smoothly and seamlessly.
Live dealer tables are just as much a part of the common online casino gameplay offering as any other format. Software providers aim to mimic the action of the real-life casino floor and thus employ high-end broadcasting technology to connect live dealers from actual casino floors or studios to online players enjoying the comfort of their home.
No, this is not the mandatory practice imposed by UK online casinos. In fact, more and more of them are turning to the HTML5 format in order to ensure they will fit the mobile devices (in screen size and processing power) instead of developing downloadable apps and software for each platform separately.
Yes, players in the UK which may find themselves feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of legal online gambling options can seek out support from multiple organizations. Aside from the UK Gambling Commission mentioned earlier, these problem gamblers can address the offices of the following institutions: GamCare, Gamblers Anonymous, Gamble Aware and NHS Gambling Addiction.
Yes, online casino players can employ any of their strategies without worrying about breaking any laws. In fact, such practices are strongly frowned upon, especially at land-based casinos (card-counting at the blackjack tables), but there are no explicit legal obstacles preventing players from proportioning their betting amounts to maximize their payouts or using their math skills for some probability calculations.
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